Tonight I was reading a national news website. One of the stories on this website caught my attention. What stopped me as I scanned the bullets? How about this headline–
The article begins with this quote
This is how I — a journalism graduate student with no background in forensics — became certified as a "Forensic Consultant" by one of the field’s largest professional groups.
One afternoon early last year, I punched in my credit card information, paid $495 to the American College of Forensic Examiners International Inc. and registered for an on-line course.
After about 90 minutes of video instruction, I took an exam on the institute’s web site, answering 100 multiple choice questions, aided by several ACFEI study packets.
As soon as I finished the test, a screen popped up saying that I had passed, earning me an impressive-sounding credential that could help establish my qualifications to be an expert witness in criminal and civil trials.
Maybe the most telling part of the article is the area of the National Academy of Sciences 2009 report.
In its 2009 report, the National Academy of Sciences called for several measures to address systemic flaws involving forensic examiners and expert testimony.
Certification should be mandatory for forensics professionals and should be overseen by a centralized credentialing agency, the report said.
One of the report’s primary authors, Harry T. Edwards — a federal appeals court judge for the District of Columbia – said these changes were critical to imposing rigorous standards on the field.
"There are certifiers, but it’s not what you and I are talking about — that is, real certification programs that train, give serious tests and will revoke your license and affect your job and ability to testify in the event that you do something wrong or fail," Edwards said in an interview. "That doesn’t exist now."
Reports like these should shock us all. Those of us who try a lot of cases are all to familiar with the pay to get your qualifications of many of the government/ state witnesses. Compare this to Lubbock Police officers, DPS troopers or any other law enforcement person who gets to claim they are an "expert" in filed sobriety testing by simply taking a 24 hour class. When I say 24 hour class, I’m not talking about 24 college hours I’m talking about a 3 day class. No place else would this person be allowed to testify as an expert. Not in a civil case, not in a family law case. But accuse somebody of being a Lubbock DWI driver and yep the hey I’m not a doctor but I stayed at the Holiday Inn last night state "expert" gets to testify. True scientists must be turning over in their grave.